Posts Tagged ‘singapore’

Now a GrabPay user, the promo will lead to inflated metrics

There are so many e-wallets in Malaysia now, it sure feels like I’ve got e-wallet fatigue and I don’t even spend much time in KL or use most of these wallets. I am more a fan of the AMEX, followed by Visa or MasterCard. Eventually e-wallets are going to have to implement merchant fees that seem closer to these credit card networks (your rewards have to be paid somehow…).

I have tried GrabPay before in Singapore where I loaded SGD$20 into my wallet from my credit card. I never did get to spend it. This balance sticks around for when I am next in Singapore. You have a separate e-wallet for Malaysia. I tried to set this up a few days ago, and they require a photo of your passport or IC to verify your ID (unlike Singapore). I seem to have failed this verification (it looks like an actual human does it, but when you fail it, they don’t tell you why; not that it matters, it seems you can still use it just fine). Also, Grab is now holding photos of the front of Malaysian’s Identity Cards… let’s hope they never have a data breach.

Today as I was trying to get a ride, a pop-up (potentially the first useful ad I’ve seen in the adware that is Grab…) said I could get RM5 off 2 Grab rides if I use GrabPay credits. So I promptly topped up my GrabPay wallet with RM20 (which came from my credit card), and then paid for a ride with GrabPay credits.

I see absolutely no difference with paying via a credit card. I believe you can use your debit card to pay for your Grab rides as well. There is an argument that cards are unpopular in South East Asia as evidenced by this Twitter thread, but if you have a bank account in Malaysia, you get a debit card by default that you can use for Grab. Maybe the play is that people will use it for peer-to-peer payments, like when you need to pay a friend for splitting the bill (like Venmo? Maybe I have a generation gap)?

However from a metrics standpoint, my desire to save RM5 off two rides (a total of RM10), has made me an active user of GrabPay. I loaded up a balance of RM20. Will I be able to bring that balance to zero or does Grab earn interest on my money (like they do for my Singaporean balance)? Will future promotions only apply to GrabPay payments that aren’t via credit card, but via this e-wallet service?

Yes, we Malaysians, and Singaporeans and probably most South East Asians love a good deal. One of the reasons that Grab probably won before Uber exited the South East Asian market was GrabRewards. If you could expense your Grab rides, participate in the loyalty program, and naturally keep the rebates, why would you ever use Uber?

Measure what matters. Anyway, back to e-wallets. The banks will wake up. The VC money will run out. Economics will eventually meet reality.

In Singapore, getting your GST back is efficiently electronic

We departed Singapore and got to experience their electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS), for collecting your GST back. To think, at the cashier’s desk when we made the purchase, we were wondering why we couldn’t just use a Global Blue refund card (useful in most of Europe). 

At the point of purchase, you are given a receipt with a barcode. When you visit the airport, just follow a touch-screen based interface that says you accept the conditions (i.e. this stuff is for export/you’re not Singaporean), swipe your passport (yes, it reads it all very well), say when you entered Singapore (you can get a popup calendar), scan the receipts you’ve received via the barcode (which will display the store you purchased things from, etc.), choose a refund method (we chose to just swipe a credit card), and voila! you get a notification receipt saying all is well. There was no physical inspection required, and with the other 5 people around, none of them had that requirement.

Apparently the monies get refunded back to the credit card within 10 days. This is extremely efficient — compared to even checking out in the UK or Europe. There you still have to get stamps on receipts, usually by lining up in a pretty long queue, then posting stuff back. 

The efficiency definitely leaves a very good aftertaste.

Bitcoin Exchanges can’t work in Malaysia

News today: Genneva (gold trading company, launched by former Prime Minister Mahathir) Malaysia director charged with accepting deposits without a license.

So if you’re thinking of a Bitcoin exchange in Malaysia, think again. Bank Negara Malaysia obviously doesn’t think much of Bitcoin. How will you accept deposits without a license? 

Singapore on the other hand proves itself to be in the forefront of finance: treat Bitcoin like a product. Read the full IRAS statement. Singapore is about to get its first Bitcoin ATM soon.

For further reading, see the BAFIA 1989, in its entirety. Once again, laws that prevent innovation.

When hackers gather

I just stumbled upon nushackers (formerly linuxNUS). Here are a group of people from the National University of Singapore, who organise weekly talks (Friday Hacks), as well as workshops (hackerschool).

I’m totally inspired by what’s happening, it kind of reminds me of the CSSE Student Club I was a part of back at my alma mater. The extension to that was GAUNIX, in where we controlled a machine supported by the university and gave folk shell access.

Great things happen when hackers meet up with each other. And here I’m referring to the hackers, not just the idea folk/business people. Just people playing around with new things, tinkering, sharing about new technology, building stuff. 

There used to be MyOSS meetups in Malaysia. Now there is WebCampKL, but this is a meld of people who are not exactly hackers.

I reckon this is what’s missing in the Malaysian space – it needs to be fixed. 

On why Singapore

Nathan Tinkler (young Aussie, rags to riches story) has decided to call Singapore home. Why?

Aside from the country’s low taxes, clean government and pro-business environment, wealthy foreigners are also drawn by Singapore’s low crime rate, highly developed infrastructure, and its lack of local tabloid media excesses.

Following my themes a little, no? Malaysia needs rebooting and it has to come from the people.

Mobile prepaid broadband in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand recently, I received really good information from John Berns, one of the organisers of BarCampBangkok3. He told all out-of-town guests, that you have options for data, with regards to phone SIMs (which you can procure for less than 100 Baht, and topups range from 50, 100 and 300 Baht – cheap!):

If you want to get EDGE/GPRS data service, buy a One-2-Call SIM, it’s easy to set up and you can get 20 hours of EDGE/GPRS for B100. To subscribe, just dial *138 and follow the voice menu.

In Malaysia, prepaid broadband is not simple. Until now, it seems. I quote, from the article Driving mobile broadband to tourists:

Celcom Broadband Prepaid plans are available for RM20 for a week’s worth of unlimited Internet connections while RM6 will buy you 24 hours of unlimited connectivity. The connection speed is up to a maximum of 384 kilobits per second.

RM20 for a week’s worth of unlimited Internet access, that gives you 384kbps. That’s cheap! For a month, that is a meagre RM80, much cheaper than Maxis’s Broadband offering (albeit at a higher speed, but the service quality is horrendous) at RM138.

How is Celcom Broadband? Does it work well? It seems like they’re about the only provider that I have not subscribed to, and this prepaid deal is making me want to check it out. (Their website on the other hand is a complete useless hunk of Flash, that even MacOSX dislikes.)

Point to note: in Thailand, getting a SIM card is easy, you just buy it off the shelf. In Malaysia, they require ID checks, and an address (I’m sure a hotel’s would suffice, and a passport would do), as they need to add it to a centralised database, to track your naughty behaviour ;-)

The last time I was in Singapore, I also noticed something similar from M1: M1 Prepaid Broadband. 3 days of usage, up to 7.2mbps, and topup’s are SGD$18 for 3 days, and SGD$30 for 5 days. The card itself costs SGD$18. Very nifty (there was a promo for a little over a hundred bucks, you could even pick up an unlocked HSDPA modem!). Where else can I get prepaid broadband, on the cheap?

You own a modern phone? You own an iPhone? You definitely want something like this, considering you’ll find the location based services useful, as well as making use of the assisted GPS unit to find your way around. Looks like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have their bases covered for the mobile data warrior.


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